Sharing childhood Halloween traditions of homemade costumes and trick or treating with her family inspired an Aberdeen mum to write her first ever children’s book.
Victoria Stephen decided to write a short story about one of her favourite times of year after becoming a mum to 18-month-old Harrison.
She said: “I love a rhyming story for small children but a lot of the books we were reading weren’t rhyming, so I thought I’d try and write something myself.
“I was was sitting at home on maternity leave with a two-week-old in lockdown thinking ‘oh my goodness, I don’t know what to do’, so I wrote out a wee story for him and thought I’d try and get it published just to see what would happen.
“And then I ended up getting two publishing offers. It’s been a lengthy process to make sure it’s perfect and that it looks good for the public, but now it’s out, I am so happy with it.
“It didn’t take long to actually write because it’s quite short, but I had to make sure it all made sense and that all the verses were matching. It took me a few months to get it to work, and then I started working with Olympia and had to source an illustrator.”
Writing Trick or Treat was a way for the 30-year-old to honour her family’s traditions and share her memories with a new audience.
She continued: “My mum and myself were always big Halloween fans and she was with me when I was writing it. She recently passed away, so the book was written in dedication to her. It is something to remember her and for my son as well.
“I’m hoping Harrison and I can read it a few more times before October 31. He definitely seems to be enjoying it, and luckily it’s paper that can’t be torn easily. It was quite cute, he recognised my picture at the back of the book straight away.
“I know it’s a seasonal book, but I like to think it’s something that can be read throughout the year as well. We didn’t want it to become Americanised, we wanted it to be very Scottish so it is relevant to how people trick or treat here. Lots of children love the traditions.
“It starts off with ghosts and ghouls and witches before the children go trick or treating. We decided to keep them quite cute rather than scary, so it’s a fun Halloween rather than petrifying.
“It is aimed at young children and I definitely think it would make a nice little gift for Halloween.”
Bringing the story to life
Mrs Stephen took to Facebook to ask if anyone knew a local illustrator who would be able to bring her story vision to life, which is how she ended up collaborating with Gav Stewart.
The 32-year-old artist also grew up in the Granite City and created the perfect illustrations to depict a traditional Scottish Halloween in Trick or Treat.
“Gav took it completely in his control, with little input from me, so he could create what he pictured from the story.
“How he drew it was exactly how I’d imagined it, so I was very pleased and impressed with the outcome. We’re from the same area and around the same age, so must have had very similar Halloween experiences growing up.
“He really captured a nostalgic and traditional Scottish night of trick or treating. His work is so precise and he is so good at what he does, I was really happy. ”
Plans for more books
The debut author got to see the book in-person for the first time the evening before it was released to the public.
She said: “I had approved the drafts online but holding it in my hands was completely different.
“I was sharing sneak peaks with friends before it was released. You can only see the cover online and the illustrations are what make it, so I wanted people to see how good it looks.
“I would absolutely like to write more. That’s the plan anyway and now that I’m in with Olympia, I feel there is more scope to push that on and hopefully get some more books out there.
“I’d like to try and do some more with Gav as he was absolutely fantastic. I don’t know if I would go down the same route with a theme, like Halloween, Christmas or Easter, or something completely different, but I do have a couple of ideas.
“My son doesn’t like to sleep at all, so a maybe a sleeping book would be a good one to do.”
Trick or Treat is out now and available to purchase online.